The Best Store-Bought Taco Seasonings—Ranked!

Can we all agree that tacos are among our favorite go-to weekly meals? I wish Taco Tuesday could be every day of the week. It’s because tacos are so versatile, so easy to make, are a relatively well-balanced meal, and are the perfect default dinner whenever I don’t want to spend more than a minute thinking about what I want to cook. Plus, those flavorful packets of taco seasonings make taco night come together even more seamlessly. With a simple tear of a seam, you can transform any boring ground beef or chicken breast into a star protein you’d happily buy from your local Mexican restaurant.

Here’s How It Went Down.

I went to my local grocery store and picked up five of the most popular taco seasoning packets and two and a half pounds of ground beef, or a half a pound per packet. I made one large batch of ground beef and then split it into 5 servings.

To honor the brands, I seasoned each batch of ground beef according to each packet’s instructions—just cut in half (because each packet is intended for one pound of ground beef). Each packet recommends mixing the seasoning with a certain volume of water. We simply halved the amount of seasoning and water.

For McCormick and Ortega, we mixed half a packet of seasoning with 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons of water; for Bearitos and Old El Paso, we mixed the seasoning with 1/3 cup of water; and for Simply Organic, I mixed the half packet of seasoning with 1/4 cup of water. I brought each batch up to a boil and then down to a simmer for 3 minutes. Finally, time to taste test!

The results, listed from My Taste Tester least favorite to His favorite (the winner!).

Disclaimer: before I get into the rankings: all of these taco seasonings tasted very similar. My taste tester expressed some difficulty noting the differences between brands when he tasted the ground beef on its own, and it was nearly impossible to distinguish between brands when we paired the beef with a tortilla chip. I ultimately came to the conclusion that you can feel comfortable buying any of these taco seasoning packets to flavor your meat because they’re very similar in taste and all the toppings you’ll add to the tacos will really level the taste playing field.

Ortega Taco Seasoning Mix, 40% Less Sodium

Ortega taco seasoning mix 40 percent less sodium

It might be healthier because it’s lower in sodium, but testers agreed that this seasoning was the worst because it was very bland. The amount of seasoning and water needed made this meat look the most like cafeteria taco slop.

Old El Paso Taco Seasoning Mix, Original

Old el paso taco seasoning mix original

Although my tester agreed this flavoring was fairly underwhelming, he didn’t rank it last because there was a sense of familiarity in the flavors. While he likened it to Lunchables meat, another noted it tasted like “that yellow packet taco seasoning my mom used as a kid,” which was right on the money! He was surprised to find that their mom’s go-to seasoning didn’t quite stack up to the other blends once he tasted the other kinds.

Simply Organic Spicy Taco Seasoning Mix

Simply organic spicy taco seasoning mix

He agreed this was the most distinctive seasoning blend out of all five choices. That’s because it’s very spice-forward and leans toward the “spicy” side. While it was ranked mid-range for some who thought it to be a bit too powerful, others fawned over it and marked it as his top choice. Because it was pretty polarizing depending on your spice preference, it landed in his #2 number two spot.

McCormick Original Taco Seasoning Mix

Mccormick original taco seasoning mix

Now, the overall winner: McCormick! With flakes of garlic and a well-rounded flavor profile, tasters pleasantly chowed down on this taco meat. Not too spicy and not at all dull, this taco seasoning packet was just right. Grab the red packet in your grocery store to make your protein the perfectly-spiced canvas for all your favorite taco toppings.

 Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed today’s post? Some take Taco Tuesday’s very seriously so I wanted to bring you something you can use or pass on to other taco lovers. I know it can be difficult to find a taco seasoning that you or your friends like. This list is based on a friend’s opinion who take his taco seasonings very seriously. For his taste test regular meat was used but if you are vegetarian and or vegan you can always use vegan “meat”. If you have any questions about today’s post, any past post or questions, in general, please don’t hesitate in reaching out and I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.